Human rights are the basic rights inherent to all human beings from birth until death. These rights include the right to life and liberty, personal security, freedom from torture, freedom from discrimination and freedom from arbitrary arrest, among others.
Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, it has been widely alleged that these and many other basic human rights have been violated in the Philippines. According to Human Rights Watch, Duterte and his War on Drugs has plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship years of the 1970s and 1980s.
Here are 10 facts about the current environment of human rights in the Philippines.
10 Facts About Human Rights in the Philippines
- As of January 2018, Human Rights Watch claims that over 12,000 drug suspects have been killed since the War on Drugs Commenced on July 1, 2016.
- From July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017, 3,906 suspected drugs users and dealers were killed by police. These numbers from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency do not include deaths by unidentified gunmen — these so-called extra-judicial killings have been responsible for thousands of more deaths.
- An average of four Filipinos a day are killed by drive-by motorcycle attacks, according to data from the Philippines National Police.
- Between July 1, 2016 and September 26, 2017, 118,287 drug personalities were arrested, and 1,308,078 others surrendered to authorities. These numbers according to an official government report.
- Police have killed 56 children since the start of the War on Drugs according to Human Rights Watch.
- Since 1986, 177 Filipino reporters have been killed. According to Reporters Without Borders, the Philippines was the deadliest country in Asia for journalists in 2017. President Duterte has continually vilified journalists who have been critical of his administration.
- The Department of Labor and Employment reported that, as of 2017, 18,000 women and children work in dangerous small-scale gold mining operations in the Philippines.
- The Department of Social Welfare and Development stated that 85,570 child laborers work in the agricultural sector in the Philippines.
- More than 8,000 Filipinos were arrested from June 13 to June 26, 2018 for violating new anti-loitering laws. The laws have been labeled as discriminatory, essentially targeting and jailing poor Filipinos for being in public.
- As of September 2017, 94 percent of Filipinos behind bars were still awaiting their first day in court. The Department of Justice stated that it had over 700,000 outstanding cases.
Despite the precarious condition of human rights in The Philippines, the Duterte administration enjoys the highest public approval rating on record for a Filipino government dating back to the 1980s. On the other hand, international criticism of the administration’s War on Drugs and human rights record continues to pour in.
It’s encouraging that the international community and numerous Filipinos have refused to stay quiet over the current human rights condition. As a result, the topic of human rights in the Philippines has become a prominent global issue, which in itself is a step in the right direction towards positive change and improvement.
– Taylor Pace